It's a Michael Jackson tribute week, which is both wonderful and horrifying... wonderful because, duh, it's Michael Jackson, and horrifying because there was nothing as special about this "tribute" as Michael was to the world. Time to cut.
Group Performance (Choreographed by Travis Payne)
This was fine, purely midde-of-the-road entertainment. The styling was crazy and over-the-top for absolutely no reason, and the choreography was standard Michael Jackson-esque movement. It was decent, not particularly strong or weak. That seems to be a running theme of the opening dances this season.
Ricky and Jaimie Goodwin (Contemporary by Travis Wall)
This piece was lovely. It really (again) showed off how technically perfect Ricky is. His extension is beautiful, and he has great breath in his movement. The only critique I really have is that I felt his height in the lifts. He's a brilliant soloist, but his short stature makes partnering, especially during lifts, look awkward at times. That one assisted lift Jaimie did was unexpected and cute, though.
Valerie and Ryan Di Lello (Samba by Jean-Marc Genereaux)
The Samba Roll was terrible, but I actually liked the rest of the routine. You could see Valerie's energy lagging around the middle of the dance, and her hips aren't as loose as they need to be for a truly successful Latin routine, but it was actually pretty good. On top of that, she looked completely transformed with the curls and the giant sequins and the bare skin.
Casey and Comfort Fedoke (Hip Hop by Pharside & Phoenix)
There were ideas here that were probably great in the choreographers' minds but looked like ass when they were danced. (I'm thinking in particular of all the interlocked arms.) It wasn't all that fun to watch because it looked super awkward sometimes, and there were too many slow moments and moments without movement. I also didn't understand why the choreographers wanted him to make such extreme faces, because they were distracting and unnecessary and even downright weird at times.
Tanisha and Nick Lazzarini (Contemporary by Stacey Tookey)
I love Nick. I love this song ("She's Out of My Life"). But for whatever reason, I didn't love this piece. Tanisha was fine, and her movement was very nice. There was very little emotional connection from her, though; she's always so stone-faced that it's hard to root for her. Stacey's choreography was nice, attractive, but not transcendent in the way that Michael's performance of the song is. I don't know... eh. That's what I've got: eh.
Rudy and Allison Holker (Jazz by Ray Leeper)
Okay, so Ray Leeper just needed someone with Allison's brilliance and reckless abandon to dance his choreography. This was, by far, his strongest work on the show. I really don't have any more shits to give about Rudy, because all my critiques since week one stand, especially when they're put next to someone as incredible as Allison: awful midsection, stiffness, sloppy feet. But this was Allison's piece; she was amazing from top to bottom and made Rudy look like the rank amateur he is.
Zack and Makenzie Dustman (Broadway by Spencer Liff)
First of all, when they said Zack's all-star was Makenzie, I literally said out loud, "Who?!" UGH, this bitch. I never liked her last season, and I'm still not sold. Also, as much as I worship Spencer, I'm calling shenanigans on that opening jump kick: it's stolen directly from this same song's performance in Center Stage. I also have to talk about styling: Zack looked fat, which he is far from, and those pants hindered his kicks. Makenzie was wearing dumpy T-strap character shoes, and Zack's thrift store loafers looked like they were straight out of a high school production in which the ensemble had to dress themselves in nondescript period clothes. As for the actual dance: again, eh. This wasn't one of Spencer's better efforts, and I don't think it helped that Zack wasn't really strong in the style (despite a good overall performance and character), nor was his all-star. And that ending musical button was super weird. So... eh.
Jacque and Twitch (Hip Hop by Dave Scott)
This is the most mediocre episode of this show I can remember in a long time. I don't love or hate anything tonight... I just couldn't care less about anything. Everything is so meh. This wasn't exciting or original, but it wasn't a trainwreck either. Jacque was fine. But can someone either step it up and knock it out of the park, or else totally fall flat? I'm feeling nothing tonight.
P.S. - All these "new" MJ songs are pretty awful. No wonder they went unreleased while he was still alive.
Jessica and Will Wingfield (Contemporary by Mandy Moore)
Meh meh meh meh meh.
Bottom Two Guys: Casey, Rudy
Bottom Two Girls: Tanisha, Jacque
Bye, Rudy. It was real, kid. Stretch your torso before the tour starts. Maybe learn some humility too. Oh, and Tanisha... whatevs. See ya.
My Top Four: Valerie, Jessica, Ricky, Zack